The A to Z of Pearl Thusi

2013-11-21 11:00

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She’s a bubbly A-lister with a huge appetite for life and work. Discover all there is to know about Mzansi’s fastest-rising celebrity – who is as refreshingly unpretentious as it’s possible to be when it comes to the showbiz scene.

Once upon a time, she was ‘just’ a drop-dead gorgeous model with a to-die-for afro.

She was featured in magazine fashion spreads and seen in the occasional television ad, but that was about it. Then ‘Explosion Pearl Thusi’ hit... and suddenly she was all over the place, all the time.

In fact, the 25-year-old is so on trend now there was even a tongue-in-cheek Twitter hashtag spreading her name along timelines for a while: #pearlwasthere had people tweeting the likes of ‘#pearlwasthere when Jesus was born’.

And not too long ago, one of Pearl’s friends, the actress Masasa Mbangeni, took to Twitter to declare, ‘If I’m fired I know my girl @PearlThusi will hook me up with one of her five jobs so don’t worry y’all, I’m covered!’

This girl certainly wears many hats: TV presenter, entrepreneur, radio co-host, model, MC and actress... not to mention single mom.

It’s enough to make your head spin. We asked her to describe her life according to the letters of the alphabet – and she didn’t have to think too hard to fill the required 26 slots.

is for Ayana Africa , the modelling agency I co-own with comedian David Kau and my best friend, model and TV presenter Nzinga Qunta. I’d dreamt of running my own agency since entering Miss Teen SA in 2003 [Pearl was first runner-up].

We recruit and develop our own girls but modelling is just one tier of the agency. The aim is to make Ayana a grooming school – a place where young women can learn how to manage their finances, look after their health and other valuable life skills.

B is for books . I can’t imagine life without them. The Bible is undoubtedly my favourite – it’s my guide to living.

It’s also a gateway to my relationship with the most important being in my life – God. Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One is probably my second best. Even though it’s fiction, it taught me that it’s truly possible for one person to change the order of things.

I’ve yet to read Anele Mdoda’s It Feels Wrong to Laugh, But… and Khaya Dlanga’s In My Arrogant Opinion – which is a little embarrassing because they’re both friends of mine [chuckles].

C is for celebrity, a word I think is inappropriately used most of the time. For me, it conjures up the name of Nelson Mandela and all those other icons whose lives we’ll continue celebrating long after they’ve passed on.

I’ve never understood why the term is used to describe people who are known just because they’re seen at events.

D is for dogs. I love them! I’ve owned 12 in my lifetime. In fact, I’ve only ever lived without a dog’s company for about two years. I got a couple just before my daughter was born. When one of them, Poppy, died after a few years, my little girl wailed!

E is for exercise. I really enjoy working out. When I’ve had a stressful day, it’s what helps me settle down. It also keeps negative energy at bay.

is for fag hag [laughs]. I’m the biggest there is! My gay friends have introduced me to parts of my personality I didn’t know existed. And

I draw my unapologetic attitude from my gay boys – I suppose theirs came from having to fight for their place in society.

is for [friend and celebrity make-up artist] Gina Myers. When you see me with a perfectly made-up face, know that she probably had something to do with it.

Our frequent dress-up sessions have given us plenty of time to get to know each other and we’ve discovered many glues that bind us together.

H is for house. At the start of 2013 my biggest goal was to buy one. I’d like nothing more than to create a stable and loving home for my daughter. Thankfully, I’m a lot closer to realising that dream than I was 11 months ago.

I is for Isidingo. It’s one thing to be sitting at home, watching your favourite soapie and wishing you were part of the cast – and quite another when a fantasy that seemed so silly and fleeting actually materialises.

I joined the cast in April this year and to this day, I’m still overwhelmed. [Pearl plays Palesa Motaung, a feisty young lawyer with a dark secret and a strong desire for revenge – in other words, the perfect soapie character!] J is for Jesus. I love Him. It’s really as simple as that. K is for The Kid, a pet name I’ve given my daughter because I don’t want people knowing too much about her. When people ask how old she is, I often respond with, ‘She’s as old as she needs to be.’ I’ve learnt to find humorous ways of protecting her. is for live television. I’m currently having so much fun on Live-Amp [the SABC1 music show she presents] but I have to admit that working in a highly charged environment can be scary.

I’m slowly learning how to strike a deal with the butterflies in my tummy. is for motherhood. Being mothered and being given the opportunity to be a mother are two of my biggest blessings. When I lost my biological mom at 16, my aunts stepped into the role. Unfortunately, with the exception of one, they have also passed on. My aunt remains my rock. N is for my best friend, Nzinga Qunta [pictured here with another friend, Sheryl Mandisi]. She always has a shoulder that’s available to me. Nzinga nurtures me and helps me grow.

is for overwhelming blessings. I still don’t remember how I went from just being a model to juggling so many work roles. But I’m definitely not complaining: I know God is responsible for fast-tracking my career.

P is for pearl, which is how I think of my hair – it’s a real black pearl.

My hair is the greatest aesthetic gift I’ve been handed. It represents who I am – a proud black woman.

Q is for the first letter of the name of someone very close to my heart. The name is off limits, unfortunately [chuckles].

This person lets me be myself and I feel honoured to be a part of his life.

is for radio. Someone once said it’s like the theatre of the mind and I totally agree.

I co-present The Real Phat Joe with Phat Joe on Saturday mornings on Metro FM. Being in studio is fun and rejuvenating.

S is for single mom and support. The two should always go hand in hand. The Kid’s father is back in the country and I know his support is guaranteed at all times. But I have to acknowledge how my friends have helped me raise my daughter.

Just the other day, Kojo Baffoe [the editor of Destiny Man magazine] was helping her with her French homework. My friends have taught me that it does, indeed, take a village to raise a child.

T is for Tropika Island of Treasure, which will be filmed in Mauritius this time round. I’ve been involved with the competition for three years. In the first two, I was a contestant. This time I’ll be presenting the show.

is for the uniqueness of the South African music industry.

What AKA, Da L.E.S., Zahara, The Soil and many others are doing with their sound is mindblowing. They’ve definitely taken the quality of our music up a notch.

is for voice. The mentors and people I’ve adopted as my family within the media industry have taught me how to build my voice – and how to use it to protect myself. I have the utmost respect for Basetsana Kumalo – I call her Ma and she refers to me as her child.

W is for winning. This word represents my attitude towards everything in life. I’m all for embracing the spirit of success.

X is for Xola – my second, and also my favourite, name. I feel all warm and fuzzy every time someone uses it.

Y is for yoga – more specifically Bikram, or hot yoga, where the room is heated to 40 degrees. It’s relaxing.

Z is for proudly Zulu. ‘Home’ is in Kwandengezi, north of Durban, and I’m grateful for having grown up in a culturally rich environment where I learnt how to speak proper isiZulu. Whenever I go back home, I’m proud of the rich vocabulary I still have.

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